When entering fly fishing, many new anglers can become quickly surprised with the overwhelming amount of terminology and gear within the sport. That’s in addition to the assumption that it’s a very costly sport. This information overload with often lead to feelings of anxiety, eventually leading to these new anglers to give up the sport in pursuit of alternative hobbies.
Below we lay out enough basic knowledge on 5 areas of focus to make transition into the sport enjoyable and affordable.
Contrary to popular belief, purchasing a top rod should not be a top priority for a newbie. Instead, start with a relatively inexpensive rod until you get a better feel for your preferences in the sport. Ask yourself what type of fishing you will be doing (bass, trout, salt, steelhead, etc)? When selecting a rod, focus on rod weight and length first. The general rule of thumb is the larger the type of fish you’re after (trout vs. largemouth bass vs. striper) and the bigger the body of water (ie. creek vs. pond vs. ocean), the heavier the weight and the longer the length, respectively. Other points of emphasis like rod action and material aren’t priority until you get a feel for the basics.
Suggested price range: $50-$150
Like the rod, don’t overthink it when purchasing a reel. When looking for a reel, start with the line – it’s key to make sure the reel can accommodate the line weight. In fact, many new anglers are better off purchasing a rod/reel combo to save on dough and remove any guess work. Drag becomes more important if you’re going after larger fish, so in general, you will spend more money as you chase larger game.
Suggested price range: $50 (small trout fishing) – $200 (big game)
Line & Backing
Line could be the most important tool in your arsenal (besides good company and a 6-pack). Finding the appropriate line can be confusing for the many different types of options available. To keep things simple, we suggest purchasing “weight forward” line. This line is considered easiest to cast. Line size is very situational depending on conditions. Smaller sizes are better for calmer conditions, chasing smaller fish, while larger sizes are better for rougher conditions and bigger game. Again, it’s important that you match your line size with you rod weight and reel weight. Most beginner anglers can feel comfortable with a line/rod/reel weight of 5.
Reel line backing connects your line to your reel and is there to let your fish run! Again, the bigger the game, the longer the length and stronger test you’ll need. Most freshwater anglers in search for trout recommend 20-30lbs test and about 50 yards length.
Suggested Price range: $30-$75 (combined)
Leader & Tippet
Leader acts as a connection between your line and your tippet. Leader is thicker at the butt end that connects to the line and tapers as it gets to the tippet. Tippet connects your leader to your fly. The idea of the leader and tippet are to prevent heavier portions of your line from landing too close to and spooking the fish. Typical leader length for a beginner is around 9ft and matches your tippet size, which is discussed below.
Tippet sizes are contrary to the line/reel/rod sizes measured earlier. Higher number sizes on a tippet scale are ideal for smaller fish. A basic starting point for standard freshwater fishing would to get tippet of around “4x” size and 2 ft. in length. Save time by buying a combo pack of leader and tippet.
Suggest Price $15-$30 (basic combo) – pick up some leader at PFB (tippet coming soon)
Flies are typically fished either wet or dry. As the names imply, wet flies provide action below the surface whereas dry flies mimic surface bait. Wet fly fishing is often considered easier for the beginner because it is much more forgiving of common casting mistakes. That being said, given the number of options on the market, we suggest a variety of flies, both wet and dry, in an abundance of designs; you’ll never really know what works until you get those bad boys out on the water yourself.
Suggested Price: $15-20 monthly budget – might we suggest a flybox subscription
Again, these are the basics and should be enough to get you out on the water without breaking the bank. You’ll inevitably tweak and add to your arsenal of gear as you become more experienced, but we all need to start somewhere.
PFB community, what have we missed? Please comment below on some basic gear advice for the new angler.